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My Pious Fiancé Has a Sinful Past; I’m Shocked!

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jan 15, 2018

Question

Salam, My fiancé is a really nice person and we have a wonderful relationship. He is the perfect man that anyone would wish for. I respect him a lot and I don’t think I can be happy with anyone else. However, about 9 years ago when he was only 14, he had a rough patch of 4 to 5 months where he was with the wrong crowd and sinned a lot. He drank alcohol and committed zina with a prostitute once. He said he immediately regretted the second act after doing it (he drank multiple times but quit that as well in that 5-month span) and made taubah and is a changed person. He said he came close to Islam and his family. He doesn't like to think about that part of his life. He was honest with me, and at first, I was shocked but I realized that everyone sins and Allah is the one to forgive. I reacted normally and I thought I was over it, but after every 3 to 4 weeks or so the thought suddenly comes in my head and it hurts me a lot. It always comes when he is not around and we are far. Then I tell him I am getting such thoughts and he always supports me and doesn't get mad at me for bringing this up again and again. He has told me every time that it was another world for him and he has nothing to do with it anymore. I love and respect the man he is today, but I am not able to come to terms with the fact that he did something like this. It seems like a totally different person did it. It does not match with his personality today. My question is, how can I Islamically let go of his past and genuinely forget it and forgive him? Even though I am not one to forgive him. Allah is. Will I be punished for being judgmental and for keep reminding him of this? I am also confused that how can a person with one person have so much change? What causes a person to sin to this extreme and change to another extreme? Is sin part of a person's nature? How has Allah created man's heart and nature to change like this? It just seems unreal to me that this ever happened. Even though I know I respect him that much more for this transformation. And insha Allah he is closer to Allah in the eyes of Allah than I am. I don't want this feeling inside me to ruin our relationship and ruin my peace. Please guide me. Thank you.

Counselor

Answer


My Pious Fiancé Has a Sinful Past; I’m Shocked!

In this counseling answer:

“Often times, when we sin, it is a wakeup call which brings us closer to Allah. As he was just a young boy basically at 14, it may have been a turbulent time for him as it is for many youths. But as he is a grown man now, sister, he has taken on the ways and behaviors of a Muslim man.

Sister, please, make du’aa’ to Allah to ask Him to help you stop thinking about this. Make a conscious effort to focus on your fiancée’s good attributes. Think back to the times you sinned (no matter how big or small) and ask yourself: would you like to be reminded of them all the time?”


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns. I can empathize with how you feel. It must have been a big shock when he told you of his past. I can imagine it made you visualize all sorts of horrid things. It seems to be a sharp contrast to the man he is now compared to the brief slipping into sin at the age of 14. Alhamdulillah, it was a brief time and he returned to the right path, a stronger Muslim!

It sounds as if you have a wonderful fiancé, indeed. He is supportive of you when you worry or feel insecure about him. He doesn’t get upset or angry. He has trusted you with a part of his past (even though he did not have to tell you) as he felt close to you.

Sister, I would kindly advise you to look at who he is now. Does he pray? Does he display Islamic behavior? Does he keep your relationship halal? Does he encourage you to stay close to Allah and refrain from those things that are haram? Is he close with his family? There are many things sister that you can examine his character which should Insha’Allah put your mind at ease.

While hearing about his haram behavior which occurred 9 years ago when he was an adolescence may have shocking, the fact is, as you pointed out, that we all sin. We all fall short (Alhamdulillah for Allah’s mercy). Some of our sins are seemingly more shocking than others.

“If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon.” (Muslim)

and

“Allah’s Messenger, I have committed an offence which deserves imposition of haad, so impose it upon me according to the Book of Allah. Thereupon he said: Were you not present with us at the time of prayer? He said: Yes. Thereupon he said: You have been granted pardon”.  (Muslim)

Allah is most merciful, sister. It sounds as if your fiancé truly repented, but only Allah knows what is between your fiancé and Allah. However, your fiancé expressed deep regret, appears to have put this behind him and changed his ways. Perhaps this was a test for him which brought him closer to Allah and made him the kind, obedient Muslim man he is today.

Often times, when we sin, it is a wakeup call which brings us closer to Allah. As he was just a young boy basically at 14, it may have been a turbulent time for him as it is for many youths. But as he is a grown man now, sister, he has taken on the ways and behaviors of a Muslim man.

Often times, when we make mistakes and people find out, they are less merciful than Allah, of course. So, a mistake/sin may cause one to be ostracized from the community. That is one reason why we are instructed to sincerely repent and trust in Allah for forgiveness. About covering our sins, the “Messenger of Allah said,

“Every one of my followers will be forgiven except those who expose (openly) their wrongdoings. An example of this is that of a man who commits a sin at night which Allah has covered for him, and in the morning, he would say (to people): “I committed such and such sin last night,’ while Allah had kept it a secret. During the night Allah has covered it up but in the morning he tears up the cover provided by Allah Himself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

As we can see, the man told the people of his sin (possibly as if he was proud, I do not know) after Allah covered it. While your fiancé may have told you thinking he wanted to be truthful, in fact, he should not have said anything. However, as humans, we often want to “come clean” about our past with those we are close to or plan to marry so as no surprises come up in the future which could cause the one we care for to distrust us. However, as you are experiencing now, feelings of distrust and obsessive thinking can creep into our thoughts as that was once covered by Allah was revealed.

Sister, you stated that “I love and respect the man he is today, but I am not able to come to terms with the fact that he did something like this. It seems like a totally different person did it. It does not match with his personality today”.

There are some keywords here that you said I would like you to look at. “I love and respect the man he is today” which indicate you do care for him and respect him. You said, “it seems like a totally different person did it”. Yes, you are right; a totally different person did it – a young boy at 14, not a grown man of 23 years of age!

Sister, with each stage of growth, from infancy on up to old age comes a different set of skills to learn. Erikson’s model of psychosocial stages of development includes 8 stages. In the case of your fiancé, he was in stage 5: ego identity versus role confusion. “The fifth stage is identity vs. role confusion, and it occurs during adolescence, from about 12-18 years. During this stage, adolescents search for a sense of self and personal identity through an intense exploration of personal values, beliefs, and goals. The adolescent mind is essentially a mind or moratorium, a psychosocial stage between childhood and adulthood, and between the morality learned by the child, and the ethics to be developed by the adult.  This is a major stage of development where the child has to learn the roles he will occupy as an adult. It is during this stage that the adolescent will re-examine his identity and try to find out exactly who he or she is. Erikson suggests that two identities are involved: the sexual and the occupational”.

Clearly, your fiancé worked out his identity as a Muslim, as a young man and as one who experimented with something that he decided was not for him. In sha’ Allah, sister, by offering you this insight into growth and development, it can offer you a glimpse into why certain people can fall into certain sins. While it is not a complete answer as human beings are complex, it does offer a bit of insight as to why you feel he was two different people.

Islamically speaking, if we look historically at the companions and followers of our beloved Prophet, not all of them had spotless pasts. Yet, after accepting Islam and adhering to Islamic principles they were loved by our Prophet.

Also, if you look at the millions of people who reverted to Islam, who was directed to Islam by the mercy of Allah and accepted Islam, they too may have a sinful past. However, they were forgiven by Allah, in sha’ Allah. So, we can see historically through time and through those who are reverts, as well as those born into Muslim homes, how one can not only change but change drastically – even in a short period of time.

Sister, I kindly suggest that you make du’aa’ to Allah to be more forgiving. Ask Allah to remove these thoughts from your mind so you can move forth with a wonderful marriage in sha’ Allah. Do dhkzir, for in remembrance of Allah is peace.

Sister, it is imperative that you do let go of this past sin or it will eventually hurt your fiancé as well as impede your relationship. I am sure you do not want to lose him over something he did at 14 and repented for.

Additionally, Allah commands that we cover up the sins of our Muslim brothers and sisters.  In this case, something was told to you in confidence. It was given to Allah and you have no right to try to revive it or keep it alive.

I am not an Islamic scholar, so I cannot speak on whether or not you may be punished for being judgmental. I can say that when one has confided in us and repented, we should leave it to Allah unless his/her behavior indicates otherwise when we are considering a marriage. If the behavior continued, then you may want to cut off all contact. However, this happened when he was a 14-year-old boy. It is my feeling (Allah forgive me if I am wrong) that this sin caused so much fear and regret in him that he drew closer to Allah and resulted in the wonderful man he is today.

Sister, I can imagine this is hurting you to think he was with another girl or that he did drink alcohol. While we may wish for one who is spotless, I do not think that one exists. That is why we have Allah to go to for forgiveness, and Allah loves to forgive. Do we?

Sister, please, make du’aa’ to Allah to ask Him to help you stop thinking about this. Make a conscious effort to focus on your fiancée’s good attributes. Think back to the times you sinned (no matter how big or small) and ask yourself: would you like to be reminded of them all the time?

In sha’ Allah, if you cannot stop thinking about it, please do look at other areas in your life wherein you might be obsessed with other certain thoughts that won’t go away. If this is part of a pattern, please do seek counseling to help you overcome it.

Lastly, please do not marry this man if you truly feel you cannot get over his past for it will only hurt him (and you) in the long run. Your fiancé deserves a wife who sees him as the Muslim man he is now, not the confused child he was at 14. You deserve someone who can truly make you feel at ease and secure, sister.

We wish you the best,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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